See More on Facebook

Politics

Ruling party wins polls in Bangladesh

Poll violence claims over 15 lives as ruling party holds on to power.


Written by

Updated: December 31, 2018

Awami League President Sheikh Hasina has led her party to a third consecutive win in parliamentary polls, securing two-thirds majority in yesterday’s election held in an atmosphere dominated by the ruling party men.

Hasina is set to become the prime minister for the third straight time — an unprecedented feat in the country’s history.

Under her leadership, the AL won more than two-thirds majority in the 2008 national polls, handing a humiliating defeat to its archrival BNP. And Hasina became the PM for a second term.

She was sworn in as the prime minister for the first time in 1996, steering her party to power after a long gap of 21 years.

The opposition combine was agitating for restoration of the polls-time caretaker government system scrapped during the AL government’s tenure in 2011.

This time the BNP, with its Chairperson Khaleda Zia in prison, joined the polls under the Hasina-led government though its demands for a non-partisan administration and dissolution of the current parliament before the polls were not met.

The results show the BNP-led Jatiya Oikyafront and 20-party alliance fared poorly, prompting a call for a fresh election.

The Jatiya Party, which performed better than the BNP, is set to emerge as the main opposition in the new parliament.

The JP is also the main opposition in the current parliament. It joined the AL-led grand alliance last month to contest this election.

Yesterday’s voting was unprecedented.

The atmosphere was peaceful. Festoons fluttered everywhere, even obscuring the sky. People walked to the polling stations from early morning.

Polling agents and party men in their hundreds roamed the alleys and sub-alleys. Party men with ID cards dangling from their neck sat lazily and gossiped by the voting centres. Security forces patrolled, but that was not necessary as peace prevailed.

Everything was fine except that it was a one-sided story all over. The festoons were of the ruling AL. The hundreds of polling agents and party men who thronged the voting centres all belonged to the AL or components of the alliance it leads.

Polling agents of neither the BNP nor its allies were seen in 196 polling centres visited by our correspondents in Dhaka city and 250 centres in 25 districts.

In an election, polling agents play a vital role in checking fake voting and fraud in ballot counting.

Later in the evening, the Oikyafront, an alliance of the BNP and several other opposition parties, demanded that the Election Commission immediately scrap yesterday’s “farcical polls” and hold a fresh election under a non-partisan interim government.

“We reject the so-called results. At the same time, we demand fresh polls under a non-partisan government,” Jatiya Oikyafront Convener Dr Kamal Hossain said at a press conference at his house.

The Left Democratic Alliance (LDA), comprising eight left-leaning political parties, also rejected the election results and demanded fresh polls.

However, EC Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed seemed buoyant at the end of the polling hours and claimed that the election was peaceful and hugely participatory.

The AL also expressed similar views, and said the polls proved that a “free and fair” election was possible under a partisan government.

But BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told The Daily Star, “Our polling agents were deployed in almost all polling centres but they were driven out by ruling party men and law enforcers.

“Many were arrested while many others were attacked. Our candidates repeatedly informed the election officials and law enforcement agencies about it but they did not take any action,” he alleged.

Yesterday, there was festivity also, but it was a one-sided overwhelming show of strength that had caused an enforced absence of the opposition.  It seemed no party other than the ruling AL was contesting the polls. A contest with itself, probably.

The scene though was not surprising altogether.

After the fashion in which the opposition men were harassed and harried by law enforcers in the days and weeks running up to the election, it was too much to expect for any opposition men to approach the voting centres yesterday. No one wanted to be polling agents for the opposition amid the spectre of arrests.

Other strange symptoms were visible too.

The voters were greeted by smiling AL men at the centres and escorted inside where voters waited in long queues that moved at a snail’s pace. But inside the polling rooms, there was hardly anything to justify the slow process of voting.

Around 9:30am at Anandamoyi Girls High School centre in Dhaka-7, a voter was talking to one of our correspondents about the absence of the BNP candidate’s polling agents.

Within moments, a group of AL men stormed the centre, and dragged the voter away by the collar.

The presiding officer concerned was present at the spot and watched it happen. He asked our correspondent to leave.

At Satarkul Government Primary School centre in Dhaka-11, AL supporters were found compelling voters to cast ballots for “boat” in front of them around 10:30am.

Asked why no step was taken to stop it, Presiding Officer AKM Humayun Kabir said he would take immediate action.

At some centres where electronic voting was introduced for the first time, ruling party men, in many instances, stood in front of the voters, overseeing who they voted for.

Dhaka may have passed a peaceful day. But in pockets outside Dhaka, violence flared where the opposition wanted to put up resistance, leaving at least 18 people, mostly AL men, dead.

Incidents of ballot stuffing and intimidation of voters and the opposition men by ruling party supporters were reported from many districts as detailed in our other reports.

As the day wore on, more than 50 opposition candidates gave up and withdrew from the race by noon, making it all the more a one-party affair.

The Oikyafront, however, kept its promise as it did not quit the race.

In the 2014 election, the BNP-led alliance boycotted the race, saying a free and fair election was not possible under a party government.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Daily Star
About the Author: The Daily Star is a leading English-language daily newspaper in Bangladesh.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Politics

Rohingyas in Voter List: EC staffers, fraud ring behind it

Electoral fraud sees Rohingya on voting list. A nexus of brokers and some dishonest staffers of the Election Commission’s Chattogram office provides forged national identity cards to Rohingyas, an EC investigation team has found. Three members of the syndicate were arrested on Monday. An EC laptop, used in the forgery, was recovered from their possession, EC Deputy Director (NID) Iqbal Hossain, head of the three-member team, told The Daily Star yesterday. The arrestees are Jainal Abedin, 35, office assistant of Double Mooring Election Office under the Chattogram EC office, Bijoy Das, 23, a driver, and his sister Sima Das alias Sumaiya Jahan, 26, said Mohammad Mohsin, officer-in-charge of Kotwali Police Station. Yesterday, Double Mooring Thana Election Officer Pallabi Chakma filed a case against five people, including the three, with the police station under the Digital Security Act, the OC said


By Daily Star
September 18, 2019

Politics

President blames China for ‘suppressing Taiwan int’l space’

The Solomon Islands is the latest country to not recognise Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) strongly condemned Solomon Islands’ decision to establish diplomatic relations with China in a major statement released on Monday. The president blamed China for using “financial and political pressure to suppress Taiwan’s international space” and called Beijing’s action “a threat,” but also a “brazen challenge and detriment to the international order.” Taiwan’s attitude towards its diplomatic allies has been one of sincere friendship, she said, stressing that Taiwan spares “no effort” and treats allies with “sincerity.” In the face of China’s alleged interference, however, she added that “we will not stand to be threatened, nor will we be subjected to ceaseless demands.” The president also stressed that Taiwan will not engage in “dollar diplomacy” with China


By ANN Members
September 17, 2019

Politics

Hong Kong police deploy water cannon, tear gas to disperse radical protesters

More protests erupted this week, the third month of continuous weekend protest. Hong Kong police fired water cannons and volleys of tear gas to break up protesters throwing petrol bombs and bricks near the Legislative Council (LegCo) building and central government offices on Sunday (Sept 15), the latest in weeks of sometimes-violent unrest. One water-cannon truck parked behind water-filled barriers surrounding the government headquarters complex caught fire after being hit by a petrol bomb, but the flames were quickly put out by police. After repeated warnings failed to disperse the protesters, police fired water cannons laced with blue dye as well as volleys of tear gas to break up the demonstrators. In other countries, dye is added to the water to help identify protesters later. Meanwhile, the LegCo Secretariat issued a red alert informing all persons to evacuate the LegCo Complex immediately.


By The Straits Times
September 16, 2019

Politics

Iran rejects US claim it was behind Saudi oil strikes, says ready for war

All sides in the Middle East have stepped up their rhetoric in recent days. Iran dismissed accusations by the United States that it was behind attacks on Saudi oil plants that risk disrupting global energy supplies and warned on Sunday that US bases and aircraft carriers in the region were in range of its missiles. Yemen’s Houthi group claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks that knocked out more than half of Saudi oil output or more than 5 per cent of global supply, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the assault was the work of Iran, a Houthi ally. The drone strikes on plants in the heartland of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, including the world’s biggest petroleum processing facility, were expected to send oil prices up $5-10 per barrel on Monday as tensions rise in the Middle East. Iran’s President Hass


By Dawn
September 16, 2019

Politics

PM Abe surprises by appointing Koizumi to 1st Cabinet post

Abe nominates rising political star to cabinet post. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who doubles as Liberal Democratic Party president, is attempting to maintain “stability” by not changing the core members of his administration in the reshuffle of his Cabinet and party executives, while also demonstrating the ability to “challenge” by appointing young and mid-career lawmakers such as Shinjiro Koizumi of the House of Representatives. Abe is apparently looking ahead to the end of his term as party leader in September 2021 by putting the finishing touches on his long period in power. 3rd-youngest postwar minister A mid-career LDP lawmaker was excited Tuesday evening after watching a television report predicting Koizumi’s appointment to the Cabinet for the first time. “It’s the biggest surprise [in the reshuffle],” the lawmaker yelled.


By The Japan News
September 12, 2019

Politics

14 Rohingyas detained in Chattogram

Bangladesh has begun reclaiming lands occupied by the refugees. Fourteen Rohingya men, who fled from refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, were detained from Chattogram’s Lohagara Upazila early Today. Md Syful Islam, officer-in-charge of Lohagara Police Station, said they detained the men during a drive in the upazila. The Rohingyas fled the camps in Ukhiya upazila and came to Lohagara. They used to work as day labourers, the policeman said. It is unclear when they escaped from the camps. Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.2 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar camps. Most of them fled their homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine State after the military launched a brutal offensive targeting the mainly-Muslim ethnic minority. The refugees and rights groups accused Myanmar army and their local collaborators of murder, rape, torture, arson and loot. Myanma


By Daily Star
September 11, 2019